HomeSAASSArticle Display

Master of Philosophy in Military Strategy and Doctorate of Philosophy in Military Strategy

Program Description. The School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) curriculum is an intensive 50-week program. The primary instructional forum is the graduate colloquium, which facilitates maximum interaction between students and the expert faculty. Class size is limited to 36 Air Force active-duty officers; up to three joint-service officers from the Army, Navy, and Marines; up to two officers from the Air Reserve Component; and several officers from closely allied nations upon invitation from the chief of staff, US Air Force (CSAF). Total enrollment should not exceed 45 students. SAASS creates warrior-scholars who have a superior ability to solve complex problems; think critically; develop strategy and policy; and develop, evaluate, and employ airpower as a component of military force in support of national objectives.  Upon completion of all requirements and with faculty recommendation, graduates receive a master of philosophy in military strategy.  The faculty selects a few students who are allowed to pursue a doctor of philosophy in military strategy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Produce graduates who demonstrate the ability to think critically about the relationship of military force to statecraft.
  • Produce graduates who can articulate a thorough understanding of military history and military, airpower, and political theories and their modern application to air, space, and cyberspace power.
  • Produce graduates who can articulate a thorough understanding of military history and military, airpower, and political theories and their modern application as a strategic instrument of national policy.
  • Produce graduates who can articulate, using a reasoned synthesis of theory and experience, how modern military force and its airpower component can best be applied across the spectrum of conflict.
  • Produce graduates who can argue effectively and responsibly about military strategy using evidence and logic.

The SAASS curriculum is designed to accomplish two major objectives. The first is to enhance students' ability to think critically about airpower and warfare through an extensive examination of both theory and historical experience. This examination leads to a reasoned synthesis that informs the question of how modern airpower can be best applied across the entire spectrum of conflict. The second objective is to cultivate students' ability to argue effectively and responsibly about airpower. This objective is accomplished by having students introduce and defend propositions in graduate colloquia, produce interpretive arguments in prose that meet publication standards, and reduce complex formal arguments into comprehensible briefings.

Although graduate colloquia dominate the curriculum, SAASS uses other instructional methodologies as well. These include a capstone wargaming exercise, practical application exercises, case studies, and guest speakers.

Course Descriptions  (Not listed in order of presentation)

SAASS 600 Foundations of Military Theory - 4 Semester Hours
This course analyzes the writings of military theorists who significantly influenced thought about the art and science of war. Through this analysis, students gain a broad understanding of the development of military thought and develop critical thinking skills as they test theoretical propositions against the criteria of logic and evidence.

SAASS 601 Foundations of Strategy - 3 Semester Hours
This course is an interdisciplinary examination of the theories, methods, and concepts that inform the art and science of strategy and decision making. It draws upon some of the finest writings from a variety of sources to include the study of politics, history, economics, organizational behavior, science, culture, and morality. Students will read widely and instructors will expose them to a number of ways humans think about social phenomena.

SAASS 627 History of Air Power I The Classic Age of Air Power - 4 Semester Hours
This course examines the historical development of airpower and strategy in the crucible of the two world wars. It also explores a number of key issues dealing with airpower development and employment during that period. The faculty organizes the course around a series of core books, selected for their impact upon airpower’s theoretical development, contribution to our understanding of airpower’s impact on events, or issues worthy of discussion and examination.

SAASS 628 History of Air Power II Air Power in the Cold War - 4 Semester Hours
This course bridges the historical experience of airpower’s youth and adolescence (1914–45) and the maturation of the US Air Force as an independent service. It focuses on the years of the Cold War, during which the United States had to deal with deterring a superpower threat while at the same time addressing the challenges of limited war under the nuclear umbrella. The theme of this course is a familiar one: a consideration of the interaction between airpower and strategy, writ large.

SAASS 629 History of Air Power III Contemporary Air Power - 3 Semester Hours
This course opens with an examination of the dramatic transformation of air power in the early 1990s as the Cold War gave way to a more uncertain international environment. It examines theoretical debates, technological revolutions, the demands of the “global war on terror,” and persistent peer challenges, all of which shaped and were shaped by the air weapon in the twenty-first century.

SAASS 632 Foundations of International Politics - 4 Semester Hours
This course stems from the conviction that one cannot do strategy without a working knowledge of international politics and the role of force in international life. It orbits around two big theoretical questions: How does the world hang together? And what role does force play in the world? In formulating answers, students read widely from the theoretical canon that governs the contemporary study of international politics. Topics include theories of international politics, deterrence, coercion, international political economy, and international ethics.

SAASS 643 Strategy to Practice - 4 Semester Hours
This course serves as the capstone course for the SAASS year. Students evaluate the substance and processes for making strategy in the real world and the difficulty associated with solving ill-structured, complex problems.  Students also analyze various strategies used to convey strategy concepts and recommendations in real-world situations, reflecting the types of activities they will find themselves in as practicing strategists within the Air Force, Joint community, and national strategy and policy positions. As the final course at SAASS, this course links the education of the previous courses to the practice necessary to succeed in the professional world.

SAASS 644 Irregular Warfare - 3 Semester Hours
This course develops all facets of irregular warfare, including terrorism, insurgency, revolution, and civil wars. The course pays particular attention to the role that geography, ideology (including violent extremism), technology, and grievances play in starting and sustaining irregular groups. Lessons within the course also devote significant attention to combating and defeating irregular threats and the challenges and opportunities associated with them.

SAASS 660 Technology and Military Innovation - 3 Semester Hours
This course focuses on the theory and history of technological development and its impact on innovation in military affairs. The course attempts to develop habits of mind and patterns of inquiry that inform successful military innovation. Theories of technological determinism, social construction, and heterogeneous engineering form the basis of inquiry.

SAASS 665 Space Power - 3 Semester Hours
This course examines the development of military space operations, organizations, strategy, and policy. It explores the contentious issues surrounding space in modern warfare and deals explicitly with weaponization and privatization as well as the organization of space forces in the Department of Defense.

SAASS 667 Information, Cyberspace, andCyber Power - 3 Semester Hours
This course examines the fundamentals, development, and evolution of information, cyberspace, and cyber power to foster critical thinking about the underlying concepts, strategies, and issues that optimize cyber power as an instrument of national power and to advance the development of each student’s personal philosophy of air, space, and cyber power.

SAASS 690 Thesis - 7 Semester Hours
The students develop and present to the faculty a research proposal. Once a faculty member approves their proposal, students, with the advice and assistance of a faculty research advisor, prepare a 50- to 100-page thesis based on primary sources. In writing their theses, the students must demonstrate sound scholarship and conform generally to accepted stylistic and methodological canons.

SAASS 699 Comprehensive Examination - 4 Semester Hours
The faculty employs a two-hour oral examination by a board of three faculty members (one of whom is usually from outside the SAASS faculty) to determine if the student has satisfactorily synthesized the entire SAASS curriculum.  The interrelationship among courses and the embedded material are often prominent features of the examination.

SAASS Logo
125 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL  36112-6335

SAASS Student Support & Research Guides

Air University Student Support & Research Guides